The 10 Tallest Waterfalls in the United States

January 24, 2024

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Yosemite Falls in California

The United States is world-renowned for its breathtaking scenery. From the vast deserts to the tropical beaches, there’s so much natural beauty to see. The country is home to three mountain ranges (the Appalachian Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sierra Nevada) and over 60 national parks.

Many of the national parks and mountain ranges in the US have stunning waterfalls. However, the vast majority of the tallest waterfalls in the country are not found in the continental US. Most of the country’s tallest waterfalls are instead found on the islands of Hawaii.

In this guide, we’ve looked at the ten tallest waterfalls in the US. Unfortunately, many of the waterfalls can only be seen by air or ocean. Don’t worry, though! There are still plenty of waterfalls for you to visit and admire. Let’s take a look.

1. Olo’upena Falls

Aerial view of Olo’upena Falls from a helicopter
Olo’upena Falls as seen from a helicopter
Height: 2,953 ft | 900 m
Location: Hawaii

The largest waterfall in the US is Olo’upena Falls, which is nearly 3,000 feet tall. This giant Hawaiian waterfall, often considered the fourth-tallest waterfall in the world, is located on the island of Molokaβ€˜i in Hawaii.

Olo’upena Falls are tiered, which means they are made of several waterfalls (around the same size) that each have their own plunge pool. This type of waterfall is also referred to as ‘multi-step’ and ‘staircase’.

The waterfall was formed when a stream fell over one of the world’s tallest cliff faces, located between the Pelekunu and Wailau valleys. The falls have subsequently eroded a deep groove into the side of the cliff face, which means the falls can only be seen from the ocean or air.

2. Pu’uka’oku Falls

Height: 2,756 ft | 840 m
Location: Hawaii

The second-tallest waterfall in the US, Pu’uka’oku Falls, is located on the same cliffs as Olo’upena Falls. It’s fed by seasonal streams from November to March, which is the rainy season on the Hawaiian island.

Rather than a free-falling waterfall, Pu’uka’oku Falls slides down the side of the near-vertical cliff face. It’s only 11 miles (18 km) from the city center, although the best way to see the falls is by boat or helicopter. As with Olo’upena Falls, the waterfall is embedded deep in the cliff face and isn’t clearly visible from land. This means the waterfall is rarely seen or photographed.

3. Waihilau Falls

Waihilau Falls in Hawaii
The waterfall’s name comes from wai hi lau, which means “many trickling waters”
Height: 2,598 ft | 792 m
Location: Hawaii

Located on The Big Island (or the Island of Hawai’i) is Waihilau Falls, which stands at an impressive 2,598 feet (792m). This is a horsetail waterfall, which means the descending water largely maintains contact with the cliff face.

As with many of the waterfalls on the Hawaiian islands, Waihilau Falls is difficult to get to on foot and isn’t accessible by road. In recent years, the trail has been closed due to hazardous conditions.

Few people visit the waterfall unless they use a helicopter. However, this means the area is largely untouched and maintains its natural beauty.

4. Colonial Creek Falls

View across North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park
Height: 2,568 ft | 783 m
Location: Washington

Washington’s Colonial Creek Falls holds the title of the tallest waterfall in the continental US. The 2,568 feet (783m) tall waterfall is located in the North Cascades National Park. It was formed by a receding glacier that melted enough to produce a year-round lake.

The waterfall is visible from State Highway 20. However, you can get the best view if you hike from near Diablo Lake’s Colonial Creek Campground and follow the paths up the rocky slopes. You can get a good view of the falls from Ross Dam Trailhead Viewpoint, although the waterfall is still around five miles (8km) away.

The cliff is covered in snow for much of the year, which masks the waterfall’s great height. Colonial Creek Falls has 13 distinct drops, each with an average incline of 65 degrees.

5. Johannesburg Falls

Mount Johannesburg in the North Cascades National Park
Mount Johannesburg in the North Cascades National Park
Height: 2,465 ft | 751 m
Location: Washington

The fifth tallest waterfall in the US is a cascade-style waterfall. This means the water descends over a series of rock steps or boulders in a gradual decline. The water runs from several small glaciers on Johannesburg Mountain in the North Cascades National Park.

The waterfall has five drops, one of which has a freefall drop of around 800 feet (244m). The average width of the falls is five feet (1.5m).

You can see the waterfall by driving along Cascade River Road for around 20 miles (32km). The falls should be visible across the valley for the last few miles of the road.

6. Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park, California
Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park
Height: 2,425 ft | 739 m
Location: California

Next on the list is Yosemite Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, California. The tiered waterfall is 2,425 feet (739m) tall and has six drops.

The fall’s water flow is at its peak in late spring, which increases the number of tourists to the area. However, the falls stop completely in late summer and fall, when water levels are particularly low. Climbers sometimes hike along the cliff face during the dry season, but this is potentially dangerous. A sudden strong thunderstorm could cause the falls to resume, which would sweep the climbers away.

Yosemite Falls is split into three sections: the Upper Yosemite Falls, the Middle Cascades, and the Lower Yosemite Falls. The first section measures 1,430 feet (440m) and is the longest of the three. The Middle Cascades measures 75 feet (206m), which is over double the length of the Lower Yosemite Fall, which measures 320 feet (98m).

7. Cloudcap Falls

Height: 2,400 ft | 732 m
Location Washington

This cascade measures 2,400 feet (732m), which makes it the seventh-tallest waterfall in the US and the third in Washington State. Despite its impressive height, the falls have an average width of around five feet (1.5m).

Not much of the waterfall is visible due to how the water falls down Seahpo Peak (otherwise known as Cloudcap Peak). The waterfall also runs dry during later summer. Your only chance of seeing the Cloudcap Falls is from the air, and even then, the view won’t be as impressive as you may think. If it weren’t for its height, the Cloudcap Falls is unlikely to garner much interest.

8. Sperry Glacier Falls

Sperry Glacier Falls can be found in Glacier National Park, Montana
Picturesque rocky peaks of Glacier National Park
Height: 2,300 ft | 701 m
Location: Montana

The Sperry Glacier Falls (previously known as Avalanche Basin Falls) can be found in Glacier National Park, Montana. The falls are 2,300 feet (701m) tall and begin at the base of Sperry Glacier. Once the biggest glacier in the park, the Sperry Glacier now has an area of around 216 acres (0.87 kilometers squared).

The cascades are formed from three sections, the tallest of which has a drop of 900 feet (274m). The water runs from the basin of the Sperry Glacier and over the headwall (highest cliff) above Avalanche Lake.

Sperry Glacier has an amazing hiking route. The trail starts in the Glacier Basin, at the head of the valley surrounded by waterfalls. There are over 200 waterfalls throughout the entirety of Glacier National Park.

9. Haloku Falls

Height: 2,297 ft | 700 m
Location: Hawaii

The ninth-largest waterfall in the US is located on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. Haloku Falls stands 2,297 feet (700 meters) tall, around 3,314 feet (1,010 m) above sea level. They’re less than a mile west of Olo’upena Falls and Pu’uka’oku Falls β€” the largest and second-largest waterfalls in the US. A further eight falls are also in the local area.

The streams falling over the near-vertical basalt cliffs are seasonal and run dry during the summer months. The peak season for the waterfalls is from November to March. For the most part, the water isn’t free-falling and maintains contact with the cliff face as it descends.

During high winds, the streams are blown away and don’t quite reach the ocean. This phenomenon is rarely seen as high winds mean visitors can’t reach the falls in helicopters or boats. When visitors can get close on boats, they’ll be able to feel the mist from the falling water.

10. Seahpo Peak Falls

Mount Shuksan in Washington, USA
Seahpo Peak is located on Mount Shuksan
Height: 2,200 ft | 671 m
Country: Washington

Finally, we have Seahpo Peak Falls, the tenth-tallest waterfall in the US. The Washington waterfall stands 2,200 feet (671m) tall in North Cascades National Park. Seahpo Peak is located on Mount Shuksan, which is 9,131 feet (2,783m) tall.

Despite its great height, Seahpo Peak Falls has an average width of just five feet (1.5m). It has a steep cascade formation with six drops. The tallest drop is around 500 feet (152m).

Seahpo Peak Falls is one of four prominent waterfalls on Mount Shuksan. The tallest is Cloudcap Falls (2,400 feet/ 730m), and Seahpo Peak Falls is the second. Jagged Ridge Falls is the third tallest at 1,500 feet (457m), and Rockflow Canyon Falls is the fourth at 200 feet (61m).

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